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Letter: Playland Questions for SPI

Rye resident Deirdre Curran sent the following letter re Rye Playland for Sustainable Playland Inc. (“SPI”), the vendor selected by Westchester County to "reinvent" Rye Playland:
1)   Does SPI consider the Field Zone intrinsic and financially necessary to their plan to manage Playland Park back to financial stability, and if so…WHY?  A detailed explanation of exactly why their plan for the park cannot go forward without this construction is necessary.

2)   How exactly does the Field Zone revenue relate to the rest of the park’s entities? (Ice Casino, Beach, Pool, Amusement Park). The monetary relationship (or lack of one) between the various entities needs to be more fully explained.

3)  What $$ amount or percentage of profit from the Field Zone will go to SPI for rent? Who will be paying rent to SPI, Playland Sports or Pinnacle? How much rent in turn goes back to Westchester County taxpayers for the private for-profit use of their public park land? How will this mitigate the financial issues at the Park?

4)  How does Pinnacle make their money? What is their role, who do they answer to, who pays them or who do they pay to be there? How does this business arrangement function?

5) How does Playland Sports make their money? What is their role, who do they answer to, who pays them or who do they pay to be there? Precise explanation of the inter-related business relationship between Playland Sports, Pinnacle & SPI is needed.

6) Who will need to make money off of the Field Zone to cover operating expenses and investment?  In what order? (Pinnacle, Playland Sports, SPI, Westchester County, Playland AMUSEMENT Park?) How many hands have to dip into this pot before park sees any financial benefit from this construction?

7) Why do we need both Pinnacle and Playland Sports for a Field Zone? Who will actually manage the operation on a day to day basis? Who is funding the construction?

8) Will, and if so exactly *how* will, funds from the Field Zone profits be re-directed back into the amusement park for Capital Improvements? How much money (if any) can the Amusement Park expect to see directed back into its coffers from the Field Zone entity? The Field Zone proprietors seem to feel they need Playland, but why does Playland NEED the Field Zone?

9) How *exactly* does the addition/construction of this structure/sports zone to the overall park acreage solve the financial problems of the entities that are already there? What is the money flow?

10) It’s not realistic to expect SPI to remain an “all volunteer” group overseeing management of the park if they are awarded the contract. When SPI is set up for actual management tasks in order to run the park and the entities under their umbrella administratively, how many paid staffers will they need? Who at SPI will draw a salary/paycheck, how will salaries be determined and where will these funds come from? Many not-for-profit executive salaries are quite high. Who at SPI is getting a cut of this money at some point down the road?

11) What experience, if any, do the owners of Playland Sports have in running an enterprise of this nature?

12) What guarantees can they provide –other than anecdotal assumptions – that this will be a long term success? Where is their client base going to come from, WHO will be using this pay-for-play facility? Who will they be marketing to and what sections of the Westchester County population will be shut out of using this due to the fees being charged? How does this project benefit ALL Westchester County Residents equally?

13) What will the useage rates/fee structure be? How much money do they need to bring in to recoup their investment, pay operating costs and turn a profit? How do they plan to ensure that they can generate enough business to accomplish this and not go under? What happens if they are not financially successful? What if they run out of funds mid-way through the construction project? How have they proven that they have the funds in place for such an expensive and expansive undertaking? Where are they getting investment money from?

14) What other properties of this nature does Pinnacle own/operate where are they located and what is their current success or failure rate? Do they ever use the designated sports facilities for other purposes such as gun shows, local craft fairs or ethnic festivals?

15) Would SPI consider an alternative to building a permanent structure such as 1-2 seasonal winter bubbles in the parking lot with a reduced level of users and traffic and non-perm structures that can be dismantled in the spring to turn the full parking lot back over to the Amusement Park, Beach, Pool and Children’s Museum? Would they need Pinnacle & Playland Sports to do this? If they would not consider this option, why not?

16) How did SPI come to the determination, and on what basis, that this massive construction project does not potentially present any significant environmental impact on the park and surrounding area?

17) Why does SPI feel they do not need to follow the Parkland Alienation process for this construction, and would they be voluntarily willing to subject the plan to that scrutiny and process? If not, why not? (NYS Parkland Alienation Handbook/Guidelines). A detailed explanation of the difference between an "asset management agreement" and a "lease" would be appropriate, as well as an explanation as to why the same plan under the title of a "lease" would indeed be subject to undergoing the Parkland Alienation process, while in what appears to be a determination based solely on semantics, the same plan designated as an "asset management agreement" is not. CLICK HERE for a letter from Deputy County Executive (and former Rye City Atty) Kevin Plunkett.

18) If the principles of Playland Sports so keenly feel the need to fill a perceived local void and provide indoor and outdoor sports fields for area residents on a for-profit basis, why are they not looking at property in a more appropriate, commercially/industrially zoned location, rather than on public park land in the middle of a residential neighborhood?

19) Long Island Sound beaches close multiple times almost every summer due to storm run-off pollution, raw sewage leaks, medical waste and other environmental/pollution concerns. On many days in the hot weather, the swimming pool at Playland is the only viable swimming option residents have to cool off.  How does SPI rationalize losing the only public pool in our area while permanently altering the iconic, historic Grand Entrance to the park by replacing it with a water park? Would they consider instead using their non-profit status to reach out to area philanthropists and mega corporations with headquarters in the area to start fund-raising for full repair and restoration of the Pool and Bath House area, thus making it once again a desirable destination for residents to flock to, especially lower and middle income residents who cannot afford a pool in their own back yards and rely on public pools as their only option? If not, why not?

20) How does SPI plan to compensate for a possible reduced financial investment in the Amusement Park from CAI due to the reduced number of parking spaces? How does SPI plan to charge for parking and keep the parking for various entities separated? (ie: if parking for Field Zone attendees is free, but Amusement Park goers pay, is that fair, and how do you implement and manage this arrangement?)

-Deirdre Curran


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